30 May 2012 – A project is underway to examine the causes behind environmental risks associated with China’s Three Gorges Reservoir, site of the world’s largest hydroelectric plant. Working in China through to the year 2015, the independent engineering and consulting company DMT GmbH & Co. KG will be cooperating with research teams from the universities at Erlangen-Nürnberg, Trier, Kiel and Tübingen on the project.

The effort was initiated by the Jülich Research Centre and is being supported by Germany’s federal ministry of education and research. To be investigated here are the effects of land use changes, erosion, substances infiltrating the water, and movements of geological masses – all with an eye toward sustainable utilisation of the Three Gorges Reservoir, which confines the waters of the Yangtze River.
 
The construction of the Three Gorges Dam and the associated hydroelectric power plant, which has been in operation since 2009, triggered considerable resettlements of the population and changes in land use and cultivation. The resultant environmental, socio-economic and geotechnical risks are the subject of Sino-German research work.
 
The primary assignment for DMT is to monitor the potential hazards in the affected area and resulting from the seasonal fluctuations in the fill level, which may exceed 30 meters. Also to be studied are interactions with the various factors behind the forces involved. 

Over and above this, radar interferometric measurements of the earth’s surface, in the mm and cm ranges, are to be carried out at landslides. DMT and the Chinese partners are to lay the scientific and technical foundations for a concept governing monitoring and hazard forecasting.